Government to blame for baby Khwezi's death - Abahlali leader

2019-07-13 17:59
The charred remains of the shack in which baby Khwezi Mlingo died on Monday. (Musa Binda, GroundUp)

The charred remains of the shack in which baby Khwezi Mlingo died on Monday. (Musa Binda, GroundUp)

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Sbu Zikode, president of Abahlali BaseMjondolo, blamed the death of baby Khwezi Mlingo on government during her memorial service at the eNkanini informal settlement in Cato Manor on Friday, reports GroundUp.

Khwezi was killed on Monday in a shack fire, caused by a candle falling.

Zikode said the two-year-old would not have died if the government had ensured that shack dwellers were provided with electricity. He also said that, if shack dwellers had a proper water supply, the fire could have been put out quickly, saving Khwezi’s life.

Zikode noted that no officials from eThekwini Municipality had attended the memorial. He said that officials did come to the scene of Khwezi’s death on Wednesday, but expressed scepticism that any progress would come from it.

"They didn’t leave anything. It should sink in Bahlali [shack dwellers] that, in this country, we’re on our own.”

He warned shack dwellers to be extra careful during the winter season. He said winter was the period when fires occured because of increased use of candles and paraffin.

Neighbour Mlungisi Mokoena, who witnessed Khwezi’s shack burn, said he had smelt burning while he was inside his own shack. He said he got up and noticed that his neighbour’s shack was on fire. Khwezi was at home with two young siblings.

'Not seeing her outside the burning shack meant one thing'

Mokoena said he had called on neighbours to help put the fire out. They then noticed that Khwezi was nowhere to be seen.

"I asked the neighbours: "Where is the toddler?" They showed me Khwezi’s older siblings. With tears running down my face, I told them that there was a third child, a small one, and not seeing her outside the burning shack meant one thing, that she was inside the shack that was already up in flames," said Mokoena.

Khwezi’s grandmother, Nonkumbulo Mlingo, said the pain the family was going through was untold. She said she only had one daughter, Mbali — Khwezi’s mother — and when Khwezi was born she was grateful to have been blessed with a second "daughter".

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela told GroundUp that he was going to check with the disaster management unit to find out how their team had handled the visit to the scene.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed that Cato Manor police were investigating the incident.

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